American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity



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Paul Harvey

Over at the blog of the American Society of Church History, Catherine Brekus and W. Clark Gilpin adapt a bit from the introduction to their recent, impressive edited collection American Christianities: A History of Dominance and Diversity. and post about the philosophy informing this collection of twenty-two essays about American Christianities. Below is a brief excerpt, and click here for the rest.

Dominance and diversity—these are not words that are usually associated, but in the case of American Christianity they belong together. A Christian accent frequently inflects American political debate, advocacy for social reform, and proposals for the renewal of public education, even when that accent is unrecognized or unacknowledged. As a result, the sizeable diversity of Christianity in America is not neatly contained under the steeples of its churches or the governing bodies of its denominations but has, in addition, extended out into other sectors of society. If Americans do not always recognize the Christian influence on their culture, it is because its omnipresence has made it virtually invisible.


And while you're clicking to some links here about American Christianities, check out this interview, at the Teaching United States History blog, with Thomas Kidd, whom we also interviewed recently here at the blog. An interesting excerpt below:

If you had to select only one or two primary documents from the revolutionary period to use in the classroom, which would they be?
Reverend Haynes
I’m tempted to say Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech because I enjoy Henry so much, but I would probably settle on Lemuel Haynes’sremarkable text “Liberty Further Extended,” in which Haynes, an African American evangelical pastor, employed the Declaration of Independence shortly after July 1776 to make a Christian argument for ending slavery in America. African Americans such as Haynes immediately recognized that if America was to fully embrace the notion that “all men are created equal,” liberty would have to be “further extended” to people of color and slaves.

And while we're on the topic of "dominance and diversity," it's instructive to compare the interview with Kidd with this review of Amanda's Porterfield Conceived in Doubt, and then that alongside our extensive interview with David Sehat, author of The Myth of American Religious Freedom, and then, as the ping-pong match continues, with Chris Beneke's work, including his edited collection, The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in Early America, which John Turner summarizes here. Let the dialogue continue. 

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